The Berkeley Hunt was located on the northern bank of the Gloucester – Sharpness canal. The Berkeley estate regained control of the property at the expiry of a 25 year lease in November 1997, and the wonderful pub closed down in February 1998.
It’s untimely closure prompted me to write to the Dursley Gazette and the following letter appeared on 6th March 1998.
Dear Sir: “I was saddened to read about the closure of the Berkeley Hunt Inn at Purton. This simple canalside beerhouse was a classic of its type, a true traditional English pub that time had apparently passed by. The Berkeley Hunt became a beerhouse in 1827. Contemporary records show that in 1891 it was owned by Lord Fitzhardinge of the Berkeley Estate and had a rateable value of £16 a year. At the time the landlord of the pub was a George Holder and the license was free from brewery tie.
I can remember the Berkeley Hunt in the early 1970’s when it was run by the elderly Mrs Musslewhite. The pub was commonly referred to as ‘Mrs Musslewhites’ and was very popular.
This was a pub where good wholesome traditional beer was still drawn directly from the wooden barrel. On entering the pub you walked into a wooden panelled narrow corridor with a serving hatch at the far end. The ceiling and the walls were heavily nicotine stained. There were two doors either side of the corrridor which led into the lounge and bar rooms. Invariably, however, these doors were closed and the locals preferred to congregate into the confines of the corridor. This created an intimate and bustling atmosphere which gave the illusion that the pub was crowded even when it was frequented by only a handful of customers. When the door to the left leading into the lounge bar was opened it was as if you were entering the private living quarters of Mrs Musselwhite’s house.
In the lounge there was a collection of mis-matching settees and armchairs that had obviously seen many years service in the pub. The slightly musty smell from the old chairs combined with that of stale cigarettes perversely seemed to enhance to the total experience of the pub.
The small room to the right was designated as a public bar. In the centre was a table skittles game, referred to by the locals as devil among the tailors. Around this game were several wooden chairs.
On my last visit to the Berkeley Hunt some two or three years ago I was delighted to discover that this rural idyll had not changed too much in the intervening years, the pub still stubbornly refusing to move into modern times. It is sad that the Berkeley Hunt has now had to close because of its inability to sustain itself in today’s accountant-driven world of profit margins. We have lost a little gem of a pub that can never be replaced.”
Map Reference: SO 692044
Owner in 1891: Lord Fitzhardinge (free from brewery tie)
Rateable value in 1891: £16.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Beerhouse
Owner in 1903: Lord Fitzhardinge (free from brewery tie)
Rateable value in 1903: £51.15s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Beerhouse
Closing time in 1903: 10pm
Landlords at the Berkeley Hunt includes:
1875,1891 George Hodder (also listed as a Butcher in 1875)
1897 Alfred Hodder
1902 George Nelmes
1903 George Phillips
1930 Lennard Philips (Butcher)
Post war – Tom Tarr
1978 Mrs K. Musselwhite
1998 Sue Nelson